Developing a Lifestyle Brand: How 3 Companies Created Deeper Customer Experiences

With each advertising decision your business makes, you need to consider the culture you are creating for your customers. Successful brands are embodying their customers’ interests and ideas, creating a one-of-a-kind community. It’s a way for businesses to penetrate their customers’ (and would be customers’) day-to-day conversations in a positive way. Clever experiences that go beyond selling a product add value for your customers, allowing your business to effectively become part of their everyday lives.

Here are three brands that are selling a lifestyle and what your business can learn from them.


When Starbucks backed Ray Charles’ Genius Loves Company CD, it shared in eight Grammy awards. In addition to selling CDs in its stores, Starbucks shops across the country host open mic nights for musicians and spoken word artists. And while the brand transforms the way music is discovered and delivered, it is also backing films (remember Akeelah and the Bee?) that fit its culture.

Looking to music and movies that fit your brand’s personality, core products, and support your goals is an easy way to relate to customers’ on a different plane and become a trusted curator of the arts—even if it’s as simple as opening customers eyes to local talent.


Ever see your colleague toting his or her lunch in a reusable red shopping bag with imprinted sayings such as, “Friends are more important than money”? Despite the controversy the brand has faced over the years, it has built a community focused on healthy living, turning its stores into local hangouts. Community yoga instructors host free in-store classes, while workshops include self-defense and goal setting. At lululemon’s core are brand ambassadors who spread brand values, while the brand helps them launch fitness careers.

Consider what your business can offer in the way of skills and knowledge that already exist within your organization. By hosting free or low-cost workshops, you can demonstrate the value of your employees and products—and get customers spending more time in your store. Allowing community members to use your business as a platform is a way to offer more to your customers while developing brand ambassador relationships.


A brand centered on the skate and snowboard culture, Vans created a lifestyle that values creative expression of any kind, whether with music, art, or action sports. Just take a look at its OffTheWall.TV. Vans Custom Culture contest allows high school students to compete to win money for art programs. It has also opened two skateboarding parks in California, offering free skate sessions on Go Skateboarding Day, plus it sponsors extreme sport events and the Warped Tour music festival.

Sponsoring local events—whether it’s an existing event or one your business creates—is a way to get visibility in your community and communicate your brand’s ideas and values. Volunteering at events or festivals is lower-cost alternative that can still give your business a chance to connect with your customers, while hosting contests for various community members—in Vans’ case, local youth—is another way to show what your brand cares about.

Consider your own life

Think about which brands always seem to match your own lifestyle. It’s not always obvious and that’s what makes it powerful. A lifestyle brand goes beyond marketing and asserts itself as a cultural staple to society. How does your brand impact the daily lives of your customers?